COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M women’s tennis team notched its first top 25 victory of the season, defeating the 25th-ranked Auburn Tigers, 5-2, in front of 514 on a blustery night at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
“We are going to look back on this and see that this is a very good win,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “Auburn has an experienced team. I really feel good to come away with this win. It is going to help us as the season goes on.”
A&M (3-1) swept the doubles matches for the first time this season, although each match was tightly contested. Stephanie Davidson and Morgan Frank jumped out to a 4-1 lead over Auburn’s Dunja Djuranovic and Melissa Koning at the No. 2 position before the Tiger duo rallied to tie the score at 5-5. A&M then reeled off three consecutive games to close out the match.
A&M’s Sheri Olivier and Elzé Potgieter held a 5-3 edge over Whitney Chappell and Myrthe Molenveld at No. 3, but Auburn broke back and then tied the score at 5-5. The teams held serve until A&M broke to win the match, 8-6, and secure the doubles point for the Aggies.
Janelle Cuthbertson and Christi Liles completed the doubles sweep for the Aggies. There were four lead changes and six ties, the last coming at 7-7, before the A&M pair broke serve to take an 8-7 lead against Fani Chifchieva and Alex Haney at the No. 1 line. Liles then held serve as the Aggies won, 9-7.
“I think the doubles [lineup] is starting to shape up a little bit, but none of [the matches] are easy,” Kleinecke said. “We have played some good doubles, but you can’t ever take it for granted, because as soon as you do, you are going to lose it. We don’t want to get to where we’ve got to win the doubles point to win the match.”
Koning, ranked No. 41 in singles, quickly tied the team score for Auburn (1-3), disposing of Lauren Santacroce, 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 3 line. Frank regained the lead for the Aggies with an impressive 6-3, 6-3 victory over 86th-ranked Haney at the No. 2 position. It was Haney’s first loss of the season after starting out 3-0, including wins against No. 10 Josipa Bek of Clemson and No. 23 Iraina Falconi of Georgia Tech.
“That was a big, big match for us,” Kleinecke said. “Morgan coming away with that match took a lot of pressure off of Nos. 4, 5 and 6. They have such a good 1-2-3 punch, and it took a little pressure off with Morgan winning the first set and then closing out the match. I’m just so proud of her for what she has done. She has the heart of a lion, and she is a great person to have on your team.”
Liles put A&M up, 3-1, with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Molenveld at the No. 4 line, and Olivier clinched the match for the Aggies, defeating Chappell, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 5.
Chifchieva, who reached the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship last year and is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, tallied Auburn’s only other point, holding off Potgieter, 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 at the No. 1 line.
It was a bang-bang finish to the match as Davidson immediately followed with a 7-6 (6), 6-4 victory over Daniela Vukadinovic at the No. 6 line to complete the 5-2 win for the Aggies.
“Our singles lineup, we can still make a lot of changes,” Kleinecke said. “Our strength is our depth, and we have a lot of people who aren’t even in the matches who can get in and play.”
The Aggies play their second consecutive Southeastern Conference, top-25 opponent Sunday as A&M takes on No. 23 LSU to conclude a two-match home stand. Match time is 1 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
“A&M and LSU, need you say more,” Kleinecke said. “We always battle. We always have tough matches, and I expect this year to be no different. They are the team that is supposed to beat us, but we have them at our place. I think it is going to be a great college tennis match. I hope we have some good weather and get a lot of people out, because A&M and LSU is a great [match] to watch.”
(27) Texas A&M 5, (25) Auburn 2
February 6, 2009
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. No. 6 Fani Chifchieva (AU) def. Elzé Potgieter (TAMU), 6-0, 2-6, 6-4
2. Morgan Frank (TAMU) def. No. 86 Alex Haney (AU), 6-3, 6-3
3. No. 41 Melissa Koning (AU) def. Lauren Santacroce (TAMU), 6-1, 6-1
4. Christi Liles (TAMU) def. Myrthe Molenveld (AU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Sheri Olivier (TAMU) def. Whitney Chappell (AU), 6-2, 1-6, 6-2
6. Stephanie Davidson (TAMU) def. Daniela Vukadinovic (AU), 7-6 (6), 6-4
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Janelle Cuthbertson/Liles (TAMU) def. Chifchieva/Haney (AU), 9-7
2. Davidson/Frank (TAMU) def. Dunja Djuranovic/Koning (AU), 8-5
3. Olivier/Potgieter (TAMU) def. Whitney Chappell/Molenveld (AU), 8-6
Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 1, 3
Singles: 3, 2, 4, 5*, 1, 6
Texas A&M: 3-1
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